President's Perspective

UM President Seth Bodnar shares how Grizzlies are rising to the challenges posed by the pandemic with innovation, courage and selflessness.


Categories: Alumni , Campus , Academic , Athletics , History , Research , Arts

Dear UM family,

I write to you from Main Hall, during the height of the springtime bloom on campus. The Oval lawn is carpeted in the bright shade of green only western Montana can offer during this time of year.

While all the signs of the season are here, there is one glaringly absent hallmark of our University: students lined up in caps and gowns, preparing to proceed to Commencement and into their futures.

University of Montana President Seth Bodnar For the nearly 1,900 UM students who were set to attend Commencement this spring, the virus stole a time-honored tradition — a treasured moment that isn’t quite the same when experienced through a screen.

For the rest of our students, staff and faculty, the virus caused an upheaval in their lives and education while they transitioned to complete remote learning this semester — within a matter of weeks.

Our hearts are with you if you’ve experienced similar distress and loss during the pandemic.

Still, in the face of great challenge (and there have been many before in our 127-year history), Grizzlies rise to the occasion with courage, innovation and selflessness. This issue is full of examples of the undaunted Griz spirit that will help guide our recovery and position our new reality. 

Some of these stories include a Regents Professor who stood up his lab to start producing hand sanitizer for local health care workers, donations of equipment and masks made by Missoula College, students choosing to leave programs early to join the health care field, and our own library archivists working with community members to document these historic times.

Especially in difficult times UM is called upon to provide a vision for the future. Impressively, UM was noted for its strengths in health and biomedical sciences, having been awarded more than $12 million in federal funding from the National Institutes of Health to identify a COVID-19 vaccine and create a public health research center.

The generosity of our alumni and friends has reinforced that our commitment to students and their future is stronger than ever. This spring, the UM family gave more than $100,000 to the Emergency Student Support Fund, the UM Food Pantry and other programs that are helping students impacted by the pandemic. Donors were joined by the Associated Students of UM and the Faculty Union, who raised funds and gave of their own resources to help students persist. The UM family is the formidable force behind the most ambitious and successful higher education fundraising campaign in state history. As Campaign Montana nears its conclusion Aug. 31, I am inspired and deeply grateful for your philanthropic support.

While the world adjusts to the unknown, UM will continue to do what it has always done best — deliver on its mission to provide a robust education for the students of tomorrow and reimaging higher education in the 21st century.

As we find our way together in this new reality, I know we share in the conviction that despite what tomorrow brings, the UM family will unite in goodwill and work together for a brighter tomorrow in our state, our country and our world.

Up with Montana,
President Seth Bodnar 

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